Genah Fabian would not be denied her place in the Professional Fighter's League playoffs.
Still healing from wounds she suffered in the first fight of season-format mixed martial arts competition and with flight delays impacting her pre-fight preparation, the Kiwi lightweight still found a way to get the job done.
Fabian claimed a first-round TKO win over American grappler Moriel Charneski in the second and final round of the regular season, earning six points for a win and a stoppage to book her place in the semifinals.
It was a much needed result for the 29-year-old after suffered a tough loss on the scorecards after a physical bout in the opening round. The extend of the physicality in that fight was still being felt by Fabian in the second round, still feeling some sensitivity in her broken nose while deep bruising in her shins limited her preparations during her fight camp.
"I wasn't able to kick on one leg probably up until the last couple of weeks before this fight where I was fully able to use it in training and kick to almost full capacity," she told the Herald.
"Once we got away I knew I was good to fight. I was all healed up, my nose was still a bit sensitive but we're definitely good to go now – especially because I didn't get hurt in that second fight.
"As fighters we all deal with nagging injuries and things like that, I just didn't have the luxury this fight to have a few weeks of down time and healing time…There was a lot of things that took me out that mentally were becoming straining because as a fighter you're used to your routines and going gun-ho and doing all your specific sessions but I had to tailor it back a lot just because of the shorter turnaround and trying to heal so I was as 100 per cent as I could get for this next one."
With her preparation already disrupted by injuries, California-based Fabian dealt with further issues in the week of the fight with her initial flight from San Francisco to Atlantic City cancelled right before the passengers were due to check in. The flight was scheduled for the Monday of fight week, allowing her to settle in and finish her weight cut before weigh-in on Wednesday, with the fight on Thursday (US time).
With the Monday flight cancelled, Fabian's weight cut was made that much harder.
"They were trying to put me on a flight the next night, but that would get me there late and mess up my whole water load and weigh cut process. We've got it down to a science, so all those things were factoring in along with the time change. We had to reschedule and pay extra – money that was quite expensive to come up with at that 11th hour to make sure we got on the earliest flight possible.
"I have a set protocol after we get off the plane to rid some of the plane weight and water weight and the jet lag. I follow certain steps for that and had to get all adjusted.
Thankfully I've got an amazing scientist as a nutritionist – Andy Galpin – he was right there with me on the phone making all these adjustments and trying to keep me calm.
"I stress over things like that but by that point I was like, man, just get me there. The sky could fall down, I was just letting go at that point. It was like, anything else could happen and it's just be like… whatever, we'll somehow make it there. But it all worked out."
Fabian successfully made weight and made the most of her opportunity in the cage, winning the bout in 1min42sec to claim the third seed for the semifinals and earn praise from former UFC featherweight champion Cris Cyborg.
The Kiwi will meet undefeated American Kayla Harrison in the playoffs, who was favoured by many to win the tournament. It will be another clash of styles when the pair square off in Las Vegas in mid-October, with Harrison coming from a grappling background while Fabian's reign as a Muay Thai world champion speaks to her striking ability.
"She hasn't faced anyone like me," Fabian said, "Someone with my pedigree in striking and my physicality as well. It'll be about whose style can negate the others, but I'm excited for that.
"I think it's going to be great. I'll hurt her, you know, I'll hurt her."